Is Hi-fi getting more expensive?


When I first get into high end audio in 2003, $3000 can buy you a very good cd player. Now $3000 just get you started. All of sudden, most of the major high end cable companies all ask $10,000.00+ for their top of the line speaker cables. The economy is bad but you don’t see high end audio getting cheaper. The entry ticket to Hi-Fi is getting more expensive and Hi-fi is getting far away from average people.

I guess the reason is that if the economy is bad, less people buy high end audio. So companies have to charge more for each unit to cover their development cost, and even fewer people will buy their equipment. This will be a vicious cycle that never ends. I think some company should cut the price by 50% to break the cycle. I know there is lots of pressure for companies not to follow the price trend when one cable company list its cable for $10,000+. If you don’t follow it, people might think you cable is not as good as the high price tag cable. But if you cut unit price by half, your sale volume can go up to make up your lower price. Volume is important. Windows 7 is more complex and powerful than Sooloos, but why Windows 7 is $200 while Sooloos charge yoy $10,000? You can also look at computers, they are always getting faster and powerful while still keep at the same price point or cheaper. Once other companies see the benefits, they will join it too. Pioneer and Sony are not incapable of making great audio gear, they just choose not to because of the tiny market size. If big companies like Pioneer or Sony see there is a big market for high end audio, they will come and join the game.

I feel Hi-Fi almost double its price from 2003-2009.We really need some companies to take the first step(cutting the price) to break the vicious cycle. Now these days more people are listen to compressed music like MP3/ipod. We really need to find a way to attract more people to good quality audio to benefit all of us, otherwise we all lose in the end.

This might be my wishful/unrealistic thinking. People are welcome to share their thought.
yxlei
Unfortunately you're talking about lifestyle change. The move to iPod reflects the notion that music is more like sonic wallpaper to whatever other activities they are engaged in. Fewer people simply sit and listen to music as recreation any more. Even TV and movies are moving to handheld devices. We live in a multitasking society where time is at a premium.

The high prices, mysticism and large equipment footprint simply add to the turn-off factor. The hot ticket now is simple to use disposable technology. The masses don't want to spend time and effort on the technology in their lives.

It's too bad because music is an art, but I think that as audiophiles we are dinosaurs.
Apparently the audio industry has concluded supply/demand doesn't apply to them. Personal ads, too.
......okay I remember The Beatles on Ed Sullivan to give you a starting point. The other day in my office a recent college graduate and I were talking about music and he actually smirked as he said ; '' you still buy and collect CD's '' ? I smirked inside when I thought of that very same question that was asked of me about 1985 ...when I was still collecting albums when the person was referring to CD's !!!! Most of us are dinosaurs - we are a small group of people who don't listen to their music on iPods just to keep occupied.....or give us something to fumble with while listening because god forbid no one has twittered us, or emailed us or even worse yet... called in the last 5 seconds....but a group that still appreciates music, actual muscians who can play an instrument and who also understand that music is something that can touch parts of our soul - and take us to places that we have never been or can ever go back to - and we all do it in the comfort of our own living spaces. Yes - it is getting more expensive - it's called the scale of economics. No company is going to cut their prices in half - that would be suicide - it is a direct result of the cost of doing business along with a shrinking customer base - but there is still a demand for these high-end prodcuts buy a certain few buyers. That is what is keeping the stonger companies around but unfortunately keeps start up companies from possibly succeeding. I also think that is why this site in the 10 years I have been a memeber has witnessed such growth - because you can find high end products that were once untoucable available here at a good price - it's also called a little patience !!!!
Yxlei, the high end audio companies that you are thinking of do not use a sales volume paradigm, just as other producers of high end luxury items don't rely on volume sales.

Believe me, the world is full of wealthy people getting richer by the week who are the target market for the manufacturers of audio goods you are describing. These people have no problem paying for exclusivity.
Yxlei....$3000.00 can still get you a very good cd player.There is a lot of great equipment that doesn't cost an arm and a leg.It takes a little more time and effort to find it,but it is available.
Yes, Hi-Fi is getting more expensive, as is everything else. Hi-Fi is just following the economic demands, just like other hobbies. The middle class is deteriorating, the poor don't buy Hi-Fi, so Hi-Fi is targeting the rich more nowadays.

I also remember when I could afford to take the family to a ballgame.....ah...those were the days.

Cheers,
John
I read an article in a audio or A/V magazine a few month back that said something about the mid-fi companies raising their prices more toward the hi-end gear prices.I was half asleep,but I don't remember them saying anything about them changing their product quality to compete with the hi-end.They're are so many new companies also to try to figure out where they are supposed to fit.I wish I could find that article. Who wants to pay hi-end prices for mid-fi?At least there's competition.But I've seen prices jump up on gear that's been around awhile.Some of it is made in China.I imagine it doesn't cost those companies any more to make the same stuff 5 years later.Here's a link for a inflation calculator LINK>>>[http://www.dollartimes.com/calculators/inflation.htm]
Not necessarily.

In 1978, ~ $600 would buy you a decent entry level system new (receiver, speakers, turntable and cart).

YOu can walk into Best Buy today and get an entry level 2 channel system with multi format DVD or even blu ray player for probably about that or perhaps a tad more maybe, but certainly not much more adjusted for inflation.

On the other extreme, there are more boutique brands that cater to rich people out there today as well and these systems WILL cost you way more than anybody could ever imagine back in 1978.

Then there is everything in between + more ease than ever buying used so all in all you are way better off soundwise today than ever before. Hooray for progress!
Tvad: Hi-Fi can't just rely on rich people. Two hi-fi dealers closed down in my city and others just try to survive.
Hi-fi or highend audio is just a reflection of broader society. Is anything else cheaper than it was six years ago?
Inflation is across the board. How much has health insurance increased in the last six years?
>>01-12-10: Eee3
Is anything else cheaper than it was six years ago?<<

Yup:
International airfare
Cellular phone plans
Laptops
Computer memory
Clothes
Mortgage rates
Televisions
Hotel rooms
Natural gas
Home prices
And much more.......

Get your head of your a** and pay attention.
Yes, there is a rush to the top. The hi end dealer has found out that their profit is in the customer that will put $25K plus into a system. These customers tend not to need a large amount of time to get the sale closed, worst is the $5K customer which needs three to four the amount of time. A few years ago a BMW dealer shared with me some of their buyer research that showed a similar profile, in that the Seven series buyer need much ess time to close then the Three series buyer. The factor was about five.
$3500 for a Meridian 508.24 player in 1997 and $1500 for a new top line Cambridge Audio player in 2009 that sounds better and has more features and better specs.

Seems more value added over the years.
Just be happy that computers and internet we are using were not designed by audiophile companies. If the "audiophiles designed computers, then your PC would cost $999000 each as it had to use only NOS electronic parts, the ones using vacuum tubes or 74LS family of ICs and PIO capacitors were to run better oh yes don't forget the after market upgraded power cord for 500.00..lol
No matter what new marketing strategy they do or new marketing theory they find out, at the end you still need to look at the result. Tell me is the hi-fi dealer near you thriving or just try to survive?

Meridian 508.24 was $3500 but 808.2 is $16,000.00 now. Cambridge or Rotel is a good way to let you start Hi-fi, but $1900 Cambridge cd player is still not affordable to newbies. I just find there are fewer people play with high end audio than before. I am in my thirties and we need to find a way to attract new blood.
I am in my thirties and we need to find a way to attract new blood.
Yxlei

While I don't disagree with this comment, I can't see how it's going to happen. The first thing that needs to change would be to make better music. Many of the old time musical stars were ugly (to be blount). Today, looks is the first 'talent' needed to be a music star. "Video killed the radio star" is so true.
I'm almost 50, and I have three sons, ages 19, 22 and 25. The music they mostly listen to is between 20-50 years old.

Secondly, there are too many other distractions today. 2 channel audio peaked before cable tv, VCR's, iPhones, computers, etc, etc. There was far less competition for one's attention.

My boys do listen to music, but mostly while "multi-tasking". I don't see this generation dedicating themselves to a listening session enough to warrant an investment in the hardware end.

Cheers,
John
I agree with John, particularly concerning new entertainment options supplanting high end audio. 20 or 30 year olds sitting passively in front of a two channel (or multi channel) music-only system versus gaming or actively doing something at a computer? I'm going with gaming.

Buy what you want for the long term now folks, because high end audio is only going to shrink from here.

IMO.
Tvad is probably right.

On the bright side, fewer people interested might result in increased availability of good used pieces and drive down the cost for many fine pieces for the remaining dinosaurs like us.
...fewer people interested might result in increased availability of good used pieces and drive down the cost for many fine pieces for the remaining dinosaurs like us.
Mapman (System | Reviews | Threads | Answers)
I believe the good used pieces will become more scarce on the used market, as more of us value the truly exceptional components and keep them rather than churning through the latest new offerings. As a result, the price of these pieces on the used market may actually stabilize or increase.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the next two or three years.
I keep a lot of old TAS and Stereophile from the 80's in the library with the porcelain throne. In a TAS letter section form 87 I think a doctor wrote in about how his income was increasing as he got out of training but the cost of the audio gear he was interested in as well as what was being reviewed in the magazines was going up way faster. He lamented the increasing cost and wondered if it was justified. The more things change the more they stay the same.
Mapman: If fewer people interested in Hi-Fi, fewer people will buy new high end audio and fewer used equipment will be put on sale on A’gon. Dealers and A’gon works almost like eco system. I can keep on improving my system only because of A’gon.

The other thing I don’t understand is how expensive cables are getting these days. Cable is important but it is not rocket science. I think Transparent started with $10,000+ cables and other cable companies feel the pressure and just follow suit. Is a $10,000 cable involve the same amount of research/design as a $10,000 component? Price of Transparent cable doubles if you move up their chain. Transparent Opus sell for $20,000. It won’t take long to reach $1M if they come up with 6 more higher cables than Opus.
Audiofeil, once again you've opened your mouth and removed all doubt. Do you ever wonder why nobody ever responds to your comments? Well, it's because you don't know what the hell you are talking about ever. The things you named are not cheaper than then they were six years ago, except for mortgage rates and home prices and we all know why that is don't we? That's the reason we're in the financial shape we're in now. Television prices fluctuate up and down every year so you can't qualify that and cell phones and cell plans are not cheaper and neither are clothes. and the much more.... you didn't name are:
car prices
cable TV
college tuition
heating cost
food prices
home owners insurance
Doctor visits
cigarettes
Alcohol
movie theater tickets
furniture
just to name a few...
those prices are the same too right?
You are as ignorant as the day is long you constantly make statements that you can't quality or prove. That's why no one responds to you and I won't either after this.
So, please get a life and some education with it.

01-12-10: Eee3
Audiofeil, once again you've opened your mouth and removed all doubt. Do you ever wonder why nobody ever responds to your comments? Well, it's because you don't know what the hell you are talking about ever. The things you named are not cheaper than then they were six years ago, except for mortgage rates and home prices and we all know why that is don't we? That's the reason we're in the financial shape we're in now. Television prices fluctuate up and down every year so you can't qualify that and cell phones and cell plans are not cheaper and neither are clothes. and the much more.... you didn't name are:
car prices
cable TV
college tuition
heating cost
food prices
home owners insurance
Doctor visits
cigarettes
Alcohol
movie theater tickets
furniture
just to name a few...
those prices are the same too right?
You are as ignorant as the day is long you constantly make statements that you can't quality or prove. That's why no one responds to you and I won't either after this.
So, please get a life and some education with it.

You are a dolt. You should research more and post less.

http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2008/07/for-some-products-theres-been-major.html
I agree with Jeffreybowman2k
Obesity is cheaper today than yesterday.
That makes it unanimous.......Eee3 is a dolt!
jeffreybowman, your mother is a dolt research that!
Aww come on guy's?? Can't we all just get along!!??
Usually the expensive hifi you get, the better sound quality..most people never get satisfied with sound and they spend thousands of bucks on that.
I dont think the price/quality comparison is valid .IMHO.To a point of coarse.My kg4,s were never expected to perform against the $250,000 wilsons I heard @ local high end shop,before they sold.brought my fav. cd to check out what a lot of money could buy .Just ok sound,imho.All great products.That was a 2 channel sound.must be me.so i bought a 5.1 system from him instead.$15,000 spent,just ok sound.turn the volume up.Crisp, clean sound,Not really happy with the 5.1 sound.Those sounds behind me,its not natural.Maybe 2.o will sound better.consulted with a tech(RAM),and he took a good deck(79dvi) and made it better.Rite cabling, to good amps,to speakers w/rite cabling,to speakers able to handle the power its fed.Then my ears heard the sounds,on the CD .The lite came on & I knew I didnt need to spend alot to get ,IMHO,a sound I found close to the sound coming from a system that cost more then my house..Seriously,If I had it(money)the search& desires,never ending.I,ve $1000 in my system,& its incredible sounding.I no longer believe,spending more will get you a better sound,@ least thats what my ears are telling me, every time I put in a cd.Same cd 2,3times a day.Each listening is an experience.Who Knew?Good Luck
Not including the deck and the Mod.Under $1000 for a great sound!
when a hobby becomes a fetish, the prices skyrocket...even in a shrinking overall marketplace. the demographic today has little in common with the demo of 20 years ago.
the demand for above 20,000 components is inelastic. that is it may be wiser to increase the price and sell a little less, when introducing new products.

how many compoanies have annual revenue in excess of one million dollars. if you can sell more than 4 components costing 250,000 each, provided there is sufficient eposure, reviews, hype etc., it may be a wise marketing philosophy.

high end audio represents conspicuous consumption. whether one is a music lover or not or ever turns on a stereo, top ceos of fortune 500 companies may pay over 100,00 dollars for a stereo to impress other ceos or as a status symbol to demonstrate their wealth.

in these "times", raising the price of already expensive components , even at the expense of selling less to a few consumers may be wise.

other companies may emulate such a paradigm and go into business selling expesnive components. thus in the context of companies entering the market, some will use one model--price while others will use another, namely , quantity.

depending upon the econmomic model you will either see high or moderately priced products.

if it seeems that that year -over-year, prices are going up, it may mean more companies are adopting one strategy or another.
OK, here's how to look at it. If you invest $500 at 6%, compunded monthly for 10 years, after 10 years you have $909. Will that $909 buy you more electronics now than $500 ten years ago?

Yes.

The top end will always be the top end, but for 95+ percent of hi-fi buyers, things are much more inexpensive!
Fetish? have you seen the prices of whips these days?
Handcuffs are a little bit cheaper, I mean just flag down a cop and call him and his mother a dolt, that should get one wearing a pair of cuffs,and a nice chauffeur driven trip in a car with lots of flashing lights, lol.
Barons and serfs, guys. That's where we're headed. The middle class that rose with labor unions has suffered as a result of their elimination.
Manufacturers of high end electronics have to sell to barons because the serfs can only buy mass market stuff, if anything. The number of potential customers is down but the barons can and will buy things that they perceive to be beyond the reach of the rabble. Pandering to them is the key to survival.

The problem we may encounter when we see great deals on previously unaffordable goods, will lie in being unable to sell what we want to replace.
The problem we may encounter when we see great deals on previously unaffordable goods, will lie in being unable to sell what we want to replace.
Macrojack (Reviews | Threads | Answers)
You're not a believer in trickle down economics?

Joke.
01-13-10: Tvad

You're not a believer in trickle down economics?

30 years later, I'm still waiting for the trickle.....anyday now....LOL!
If and when the trickle arrives, I suspect it will taste like urine.
If and when the trickle arrives, I suspect it will taste like urine.
Macrojack (Reviews | Threads | Answers)
Uhg. That was brutal to read at 7:30am.
I'm sorry, Tvad. Remember that you chose that time zone yourself though. It's 10:30 in N.Y.
Anybody ever consider the homonym exploited in the Laffer Curve?
Yxlei I am hoping Ferrari heeds your advice.
I notice my favorite brand seems to release new models with pricing tied almost directly to the CPI when looking all the way back to their prices for top of the line gear in the late 1980's- early 1990's.
There is definitely a trend for any high end company that wants to be taken seriously, to try to have a model with an absolutely insane price. I think these are usually created for three reasons:
1. To establish that they belong in the rarefied company of the the other top companies.
2. To make the rest of their line appear affordable by comparison.
3. To help fund R&D.

If you focus on the cost for a given level of performance, I don't think the price is going up, or if it is, then not much faster than everything else.
The reason that audio manufacturers all want to offer a Statement piece for a bazillion dollars is the same reason why people went to Sutter's Mill, buy lottery tickets or recorded anybody who had a band in the sixties. They all want to strike it rich. Maybe that $60,000 preamp will be the next Beatles or the lucky number or the "Eureka!!!" hole in the ground.
There is no justification for these prices other than the fact that people who work on Wall Street can afford and will buy them. In this age, where discrimination is frowned upon by the courts, these people are eager to feel discriminating, even if they are nothing but wealthy. Money, in and of itself, is not very rewarding so it is hoped that spending it might be. And if spending some feels good spending a lot more should feel a lot better. Right?
Nope, you just have to outsmart them.
"High End" is getting more expensive because so many companys have gone under that those remaining can charge more. Soon we will be left with a product that only the rich can afford.

Well, the replies sure are certainly entertaining and vary almost a-z in extremes. However from my experience the truth-- and usually the best values lie in the middle.

Most manufacturers I know and talk to --numbering in the dozens, are fully focussed on creating products that get better performance into more affordable packages given the the way the market has shifted.

There is no better time to get tremendous value in any number of product categories. And yes, there are fantastic CD replay systems for $3k and under. I wont name any lest I be termed a shill but they are plentiful...

Yes, most manufacturers make uber products but often (not always) these are design progressions to explore what's possible rather than drooling, inflated pocket pullers of the wealthy. If any manufacturer makes their super product and it fails or sucks, the market will fall on it like a brick--typically.

Some cable company prices get inflated because manufacturers are trying to balance the pricing between their US and overseas markets --so customers in Asia don't try to buy for less from US dealers. They do this by artificially inflating US retail and giving larger discounts to their foreign distributors to cover VAT, ship etc--sometimes up to 80%-- so they can match the set US retail. These same companies then use the extra margin in the US to spiff dealers and reward better sales with deeper discounts. They can also make it hard for normal margin cable lines to compete on price--which is something that has occurred for years but is now showing its wig--imo.

There are a dwindling number of companies that still do this and they for the most part do not need to be named because they stick out like a sore thumb.... This sales paradigm will definitely fail in time I believe because the markets simply will not support that anymore. Performance and value--thankfully are back in a big way.

You want to talk about inflation and stupid pricing, lets go back to the mid nineties and early 2000's when dealers could name their price, guide purchasers to the Pink Elephant amp and laugh on their way to the bank. Those days are OVER and most of those slippery dealers are g-o-n-e. This business is ALL the better for it's demise. Now, many customers walk into a dealer and haggle over what free gifts and discounts they deserve for buying a $30 cartridge-- I am exaggerating of course but that is closer to the truth.

The smart manufacturers recognize the trends, respond with better products at lower prices and strive to offer top service and value at low prices. That is the only way to make it and from everywhere I look, I see it happening, Sometimes when you spend too much time on the Gon, you miss what is happening at the dealers. I think there are good trends emerging that should please everyone.

There is a big comb filter going through our business right now and to make it through that, companies are starting to make more value oriented and less stratospherically priced products.

Regards,

Grant--stranded in cold and windy Moscow
Shunyata
High end audio is getting more expensive with every breath you take. 30 years ago when many of us got involved, the ultimate speaker system might have been obscenely expensive at $2500. Today, after wages have crept up slightly, the dream equipment is beyond dreaming - it is unimagineable. Working people could dream about buying $2500 speakers when they made $400/week. Now they make $1000/wk. and the state of the art speaker is $150,000.
Do you see any change in those numbers?

The carrot is being dangled so far out in front of us that it no longer seems to be within reach - not even within dreaming reach.

Our economy has been propped up for years by cheap foreign goods and consumer credit. These factors have lost some of their corrective ability in the last couple of years and audio has felt the crunch. It's still a great hobby but new goods are not much of a value these days. There's just too much opportunity to get your fix from the used market.
The evidence suggests HiFi is getting more expensive, $50000 to 70000 speakers seem to be the norm now, not a rarity. This is a dangerous generalisation, but going from room to room at RMAF this year, it seemed clear to me, how many of the high end rooms were dry and sterile. On the other hand, many of the smaller company rooms were musical and enjoying. I would name Modwright, Grant Fidelity, Ayon, moscode and Daedalus as examples. I wo'nt name any of the big names I disliked.
What links these companies? There small scale, run by enthusiasts and without expensive promotion budgets.
So I think good value is out there, you just have to find it and sites like Audiogon, Pink Fish Media in the UK, have helped me enormously. TW Accustic, Daedalus are just two of the value for money brands, I have found on this site. Note I did'nt say cheap, but value for money, before someone jumps back at me about the price of a TW Accustic Raven